July 31, 2012

Read Milwaukee Public Schools’ “Evaluation of Montessori Programs, Audit 2012-51, June 12 here.



County gives go ahead for Bay View Art Stop

July 27, 2012


Business Improvement District #44 to handle maintenance, snow removal

MiThe Milwaukee County Board today approved an amendment to move forward on construction of an artistic bus shelter in Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood.  

Milwaukee County is providing $50,000 of Public Art Program funds for the initial construction of an artistic bus shelter at the intersection of Kinnickinnic, Howell, and Lincoln Avenues with long term maintenance and up-keep to be provided by Bay View BID #44.

“BID #44 has done a wonderful job in securing this site and providing funding for this project,” Chairwoman Dimitrijevic said.  “I have no doubt they will continue to keep it well maintained for many years, further adding to the value, beauty and functionality of the Bay View neighborhood.”

The agreement with the Bay View Business Improvement District (BID) #44 was amended to state that Milwaukee County shall not be responsible for snow and ice removal at the shelter locations.

Governor Walker announces loan guarantees to farmers affected by drought

July 25, 2012

Today, Governor Scott Walker announced the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) will offer drought relief assistance.  In response to his declaration of a state of emergency for all 72 Wisconsin counties WHEDA will begin accepting applications for its Drought Relief Guarantee Program.

The Drought Relief Guarantee Program is a financing product that will provide a 90 percent guarantee on agricultural loans up to $15,000 for three years.  In addition, WHEDA will provide interest reduction payments to lender partners allowing for lower interest rate loans for drought-affected farms.

“After witnessing first-hand the devastation of this drought on Wisconsin farmers, it’s clear they need the kind of help WHEDA can provide,” said Governor Scott Walker. “Agriculture is one of Wisconsin’s biggest three economic engines.  We need to ensure that we provide this vital industry with the confidence and resources to continue to produce.”

“Our state’s farmers are enduring severe drought conditions and require the type of immediate support WHEDA can readily make available,” said WHEDA Executive Director Wyman Winston. “With our long history of supplying agricultural loans, WHEDA can step up and provide critical relief to ag producers who are essential to the success of our state’s economy.”

To use the Drought Relief Guarantee Program, eligible farmers must be expected to lose 40 percent or more of their crops due to drought conditions.  Loan proceeds can be used for fertilizer, seed, fuel, pesticides, tillage services, crop insurance, water delivery and animal feed.

For more information and eligibility requirements about WHEDA’s Drought Relief Guarantee Program, please see

Feds approve Federal Disaster Designation in Wisconsin due to drought

July 25, 2012

Governor Walker announced today the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved his request to designate 23 Wisconsin counties as primary natural disaster areas.

Governor Walker requested the designation last week. “Under this designation, all qualified farm operators in the affected counties are eligible for low-interest emergency loans,” Governor Walker said.  “We are doing everything we can to assist farmers who are losing crops due to the extended period where we saw a lack of rain combined with extreme heat.  This is one more option for farmers trying to recover from the drought.”

Following a recent tour of drought-stricken farms in Wisconsin to get a first-hand look at the crop loss and get input from farmers on the best route to recovery, Governor Walker announced the state is opening up some state-owned lands for hay and grazing.  Earlier this month, Governor Walker declared a state of emergency in all Wisconsin counties which expedites permits for farmers to temporarily use stream or lake water for irrigation.

The Wisconsin counties designated as primary natural disaster areas are:  Adams, Columbia, Crawford, Dane, Dodge, Fond du Lac, Grant, Green, Green Lake, Iowa, Jefferson, Kenosha, Lafayette, Marquette, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Richland, Rock, Sauk and Walworth.

For comprehensive information and resources relating to the 2012 drought and heat wave, see





Third Annual Milwaukee Brewfest at McKinley Park Saturday, July 28

July 24, 2012

Enjoy a beautiful Milwaukee County Park while at a craft beer tasting event

Milwaukee County Parks announced after a very successful second year, that the Third Annual Milwaukee Brewfest will be taking place at the old Coast Guard Pavilion at McKinley Park on Milwaukee’s beautiful lakefront July 28, 2012. Beautiful views and ample space have proven this as a great spot for a craft beer tasting event!

This year there will be samplings of over 200 craft beers and micro brews from over 60 breweries from across the country. Back by popular demand, the 2012 Milwaukee Brewfest will also have a special German Row.

 Although everyone comes for the beer, there will be a number of on-site activities for added entertainment:

• Live musical performances

• Crowning of the 2012 Milwaukee Brewfest Queen

• A variety of food available for purchase from local restaurants and vendors

• Food sampling from various Wisconsin-based companies

• Displays by a number of local artists and craftsmen

 Milwaukee Brewfest will take place from 3pm-7pm with 2pm early admission for all VIP ticket holders.  General admission tickets are $40 in advance and $45 at the gate.  VIP tickets are $55 in advance or $60 at the gate.  Ticket sales are limited, be sure to get your tickets while you can.

Please visit for ticket purchases and additional information.

Free ice skating at Wilson Park Wednesday, July 25 noon to 8pm

July 24, 2012

Milwaukee County Parks announces FREE ice skating admission tomorrow, Wednesday, July 25, at Wilson Recreation Center (4001 S. 20 St) from noon to 8pm. Bring your family to the rink and escape the heat!! Strap on a pair of skates or just enjoy the cool ice rink air while you watch. Bring your own skates or rent a pair for $2.00. Children age 10 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

The Wilson Recreation Center houses the indoor Ice Arena, where you can skate year-round. The 17,000 square-foot sheet of groomed ice is a standard NHL-sized rink, 200 by 85 feet. The Arena has seating for 2,000, a concession area, and rental skates in a full range of sizes. For more information please call Wilson Recreation at (414) 281-6289

Clean Wisconsin suing Wisconsin DNR for non-permitted Weston coal plant

July 24, 2012

Plant has operated with expired air permit since 2009

 Clean Wisconsin filed a lawsuit against the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today, asking the court to compel the DNR to issue an air permit for Wisconsin Public Service Corporation’s (WPS) Weston coal plant located in Rothschild, which has been operating with an expired air permit since 2009.

“The Weston coal plant emits millions of pounds of toxic pollution every year, fills the air with soot and smog, and threatens the health of Wisconsin families,” says Elizabeth Wheeler, staff attorney at Clean Wisconsin. “An updated air permit is needed to help protect the thousands of residents living near the Weston coal plant.”

The Clean Air Act requires states to issue air permits for power plants in order to ensure compliance and allow enforcement of air pollution limits. According to the complaint filed today, the operating permit for the Weston coal plant expired on October 15, 2009.  The DNR failed to issue or deny a new permit for the coal plant by its legal deadline of March 18, 2011, leaving the new permit more than a year overdue.

“The DNR issues air permits to reduce air pollution and make sure facilities meet public health standards,” explains Wheeler. “Without an updated air permit, local residents are left without protections or measures to hold WPS accountable for pollution from the Weston coal plant.”

In 2011 alone, the Weston coal plant emitted 16,351,229 pounds of sulfur dioxide, 5,777,421 pounds of nitrogen oxides, and 1,426,929 pounds of particulates. Sulfur and nitrogen oxides create soot and smog, while particulate pollution can cause health problems including respiratory and cardiovascular distress. The plant also emitted significant amounts of arsenic, mercury, barium and other hazardous air pollutants. Because the air permit expired in 2009, there is no guarantee that the power plant is operating within federally established pollution limits.

“No power plant should be allowed to operate with an expired air permit,” says Wheeler. “It’s time for the DNR to issue an air permit for the Weston coal plant to ensure that residents living near the plant are protected from unsafe levels of pollution.”


Volunteer credits available for high school students at Garden District event this weekend

July 24, 2012

This Weekend’s Garden District Neighborhood Association Festival Relies on Volunteer Support

Supervisor Jason Haas is pleased to announce an opportunity for high school and college students to gain volunteer credit by working at the Garden District Neighborhood Association Festival, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, July 27 – 29, 2012.

“Volunteering is important for both individuals and their communities as it provides everyone involved with feelings of pride and accomplishment,” noted Supervisor Haas. “Additionally, student volunteers can receive class credit for lending their time and talents to the Second Annual Garden District Days Festival, and I encourage them to do so.”

The weekend festival, which will be held at S. Fifth Street and W. Layton Avenue, features live music, free children’s activities, food and beverage vendors, rides, and games, as well as the Garden District Neighborhood Association Farmers Market on Saturday, July 28 from 1 to 4pm.

Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Dawn Riegel at or 414-380-9047.

“I also personally welcome people who live in the 14th Supervisory District and beyond to enjoy the Garden District Days Festival; it’s a perfect example of the many summertime celebrations that make Milwaukee County a vibrant place to live, work and play.”  

Dimitrijevic et al appeased, give thumbs up for Couture project

July 23, 2012

Negotiations will prioritize public benefit
The County Board’s Economic & Community Development Committee this morning showed leadership by unanimously recommending negotiations with Barrett Visionary Development for the possible purchase of land currently housing the Downtown Transit Center.

“Now that the Administration finally has presented the Request for Information responses to the Committee, it is time to move forward.  The County Board’s approach to the development of this valuable real estate is thoughtful and deliberate,” Chairwoman Dimitrijevic added.  “The Committee will continue to engage citizens by holding public hearings before approving a final development agreement.”

“We are committed to the highest standards in hiring and contracting and look forward to providing prevailing wage jobs on the Couture project, including adhering to the spirit of the hiring goals that have been established in the PERC,” developer Rick Barrett said.  “This has been a positive, productive process.  It’s been a pleasure to work with Chairwoman Dimitrijevic, the County Board and County Executive Abele on one of the most exciting projects in Milwaukee’s history.”

The resolution approved this morning includes the following protections and benefits for the citizens and taxpayers of Milwaukee County:

•        Stimulate the economy and create jobs by incorporating County’s Park East Redevelopment Compact (PERC) to provide community benefits, including employing minorities and women from Milwaukee County
•        Determine whether any portion of the site is in filled lakebed subject to the public trust doctrine
•        Solicit fair market value for the property
•        Ensure that sale proceeds can be reinvested into transit services

The full County Board will consider the resolution this Thursday, July 26 at 9:30 a.m. in Room 200 of the Milwaukee County Courthouse.

Advice and help from Wisconsin DOJ for mortgage-related problems

July 18, 2012

Source: Office of A.G. Van Hollen, State Attorney General

Jane Smith* called my office as a last resort.  She and her family were packing their belongings and preparing to move as the result of a foreclosure.  For months, she had been trying unsuccessfully to persuade her bank to modify her loan so that she could make reasonable payments and keep the home.   However, when a foreclosure judgment was entered and a sheriff’s sale scheduled, she almost gave up hope.

Then, Jane heard about the $25-billion mortgage foreclosure settlement between 49 states (including Wisconsin), and the five biggest banks in the nation.  She called the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ), and we were able to “escalate” her complaint to the executive office of her bank.  The sheriff’s sale was postponed while the bank approved a trial mortgage modification.  Due to that modification, Jane and her family have been able to stay in their home of nearly ten years.

Since the mortgage foreclosure settlement was finalized in April, the DOJ has been active in helping to resolve mortgage-related issues between consumers and national banks.  The settlement requires the settling banks, among other things, to work with eligible borrowers to restructure their loans to avoid foreclosures — a result that benefits the homeowner, the bank and the community at large.  Sometimes we are able to escalate complaints to the executive offices of various banks, resulting in loan modification agreements with the banks, forbearance agreements, delayed foreclosure actions and other options designed to benefit the homeowner.

Other times, we are able to direct homeowners to resources such as housing counselors, legal aid attorneys, or mediation services.  For example, Roger George* realized that he could not avoid foreclosure but was worried that the bank would go after him for the “deficiency” – which is the difference between what he owed and the amount the house would bring at a sheriff’s sale.  He called the DOJ,  was directed to housing counselors, and ultimately found an attorney.  His sale was postponed, giving him extra time to move out, and his deficiency balance was waived.

The DOJ also can help homeowners spot mortgage modification scams.  Of course, not all of those who offer loan modification assistance take advantage of consumers.  Some do, unfortunately, but there are red flags that serve as warnings that an offer of assistance may be a scam.  As a rule of thumb, most legitimate entities do not charge an advance fee for help with a loan modification.  Moreover, consumers should be wary if the company demands payment within a short timeframe, or demands payment by a cashier’s check or money order.  To validate the legitimacy of a program purportedly affiliated with the Home Affordable Modification Program, or “HAMP,” call the Homeowner’s HOPE Hotline at 1-888-995-HOPE (1-888-995-4673) or visit  If you suspect a mortgage modification scam, contact the DOJ’s Consumer Protection hotline at (800) 998-0700 or (608) 266-1852.  Or, email the DOJ at the following address:

In general, customers seeking a modification under the settlement should first attempt to work directly with their bank:

  • Bank of America: 877-488-7814
  • Citigroup: 866-272-4749
  • Chase: 866-372-6901
  • Ally/GMAC: 1-800-766-4622
  • Wells Fargo: 1-800-288-3212

However, consumers who encounter difficulties with their banks, or whose loans are with banks other than those listed above, should not hesitate to contact the Wisconsin DOJ Office of Consumer Protection.  We have trained staff available, including a Special Assistant Attorney General for Mortgage Foreclosure Mitigation, to assist consumers and provide resources.  You also can find resources on our website:

*Names and some characteristics of each story have been changed to protect the identity of the homeowners.

FOUND! Lost cat in Tippe neighborhood

July 18, 2012

January 11, 2013
The Compass received a note from the owner today announcing that Orion was recently found. Awwwww, who doesn’t love a story with a happy ending?

*Attention, my cat has gone missing from the 3800 block of South Griffin Avenue. He has been missing since Saturday, July 14.

The cat, Orion, is a male, 10 yrs. old and neutered. He is extremely overweight, and has a black blister on his right ear. He is a  Tuxedo Cat:

He has a white chest and semi-white paws.  Orion’s coat is medium haired in length, white whiskers and white eyebrows…in addition, Orion has dandruff.

He responds to Orion, or Gatito. Orion has emeral green eyes, is friendly, and is shedding profusely.  A reward is available for the safe return of this beloved cat. If you have any information or leads please call Christine, at your earliest convenience: 414-483-2434. Alternate: 630-666-8623. Thank you for your time.


Looking for a school? MPS launches new mobile app

July 18, 2012

Searching for school supplies? Or a new school? MPS’ new GPS-enabled mobile website can help

Research finds significant mobile internet usage across income, demographic groups 

Parents shopping for school supplies, shopping for a school for their children or just looking to learn more about Milwaukee Public Schools now have a new tool to help them: the district’s new mobile website.

The website – – launches [Wednesday] and features a GPS-based school search function that allows parents to find schools based upon the parent’s current location, location of a home or offerings of a given school. Parents can search for schools with a focus on the arts/music, bilingual education, career/technical education, English as a Second Language, Gifted and Talented programming, International Baccalaureate curriculum, language immersion and the Montessori method, among other options.

The site also allows parents easily find the information they request most often: school supply lists, lunch menus, district news, events and program information – all from any web-enabled mobile phone, including iPhone, Blackberry and Android-based products.

MPS is launching the site as research continues to show significant mobile internet usage among district families and across income and demographic groups. The district’s own 2011-12 school climate survey found 75% of families have internet access and 53% have a smartphone or tablet with internet access.

As of 2011, 88% of American adults had a cell phone, according to the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, compared to 58% who had a desktop computer and 61% who had a laptop. The same report found 49% of black and Hispanic adults — and 45% of white adults — had a smartphone.

Among smartphone users, Pew found 25% go online mostly using their phones. That grows to 38% among black and Latino users, to 40% among those whose households earn less than $30,000 and to 42% among those between the ages of 18 and 29.

“Information is critical to our current and prospective families – and we have to go where our families are,” Superintendent Gregory Thornton said.

The district created the site through an approximately $20,000 contract with Roll Mobile, an award-winning Milwaukee-based mobile development and marketing agency. More information is at MPS opted for a mobile website as opposed to costlier “apps” for each mobile platform – and district staff will maintain and update the site at no additional cost. Smartphone users visiting the full MPS website – — will be redirected to the new site with the option to switching to the full site if they so choose. Users are encouraged to bookmark the site!

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